Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Feeling the heat in Toulouse


I had a long day in Toulouse today ahead of collecting Gustav from the airport after his late flight from Sweden. The city is undergoing a massive regeneration of its central streetscape so it’s not an ideal time to visit. Trying to follow road diversion signs that simply didn’t do what they said, either sent me in congested loops or up dead-end streets that required me (and several cars behind) to back up 300m without hitting pedestrian zombies who were only looking at their portable devices.

 IKEA cafeteria  This isn't Facebook

I went out to IKEA first to run through a short shopping list and found myself in the local store’s redesigned cafeteria, carefully designed to maximise clinical inefficiency. We had servers asking up the line for our orders, despite neither food choice nor a menu being in sight. While IKEA’s designers are smart enough to design their products around what will best fit onto a shipping pallet, they’re completely lost at getting cafeteria patrons from entrance to table with minimum hassle. Perhaps they’re the same people who put up the signs showing the temporary traffic route for the three streets between the inner city ring road and the main Capitole car park.

Still it was a day when no mistake could be made that you were in France: the cafeteria had a wine selection, and the decorations on the carousels had more exposed nipples than Facebook would allow on its entire site.
Sandy and Hoppy  399x549 - Sandy & Hoppy The Manor Lake
Munson stayed at home today as it was so hot, the ambient temperature in the city even worse, being magnified by brick and concrete. Within moments of returning to my car through the day, I had to wrap my head in a towel to staunch the perspiration.

I filled in some time before a session of The Dark Knight Rises browsing a few well air-conditioned comic book stores. It was in one of these that I found the first volume of twelve collecting the adventures of Sandy and Hoppy, a young boy and his pet kangaroo. The series ran from 1959 to 1974, and even allowed our young hero to not only hop all over Australia but to visit New Zealand in Au Pays du Kiwi. My superficial reading of these stories is that they’re pitched somewhere between Enid Blyton and Tintin, their wide-ranging presentation of Australian landscapes somewhat confused by how its lacustrine architecture may appear.

It was somewhat cooler when I finally climbed out of the cinema. I had hoped to fit in a couple of movies but the timing of the VO sessions didn’t allow that before I had to be at the airport. The remaining hours allowed a last fling at the supermarket and then a long wait reading in a booth at McDo’s near the airport.

At last Gustav surfaced, a few minutes before midnight, a very welcome sight after leaving him to his summer job back in June. The trip home was much longer than we liked – it turned out that there was roadwork on the city périphérique that forced us all the way back into the city again and then back out. Later on the journey we found the main road west was closed to allow a convoi exceptionnel of Airbus parts to travel through the night, so we had a diversion north through various back roads before we got home about 2am. Munson was waiting by the gate, his long day alone mitigated by Gustav’s return to le pays du malamute.

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